- Dean Smith
Worker’s Comp Occupational Stress Claim Denied by NJ Court
An article posted on Insurance Journal states that the NJ court says “in order to establish a compensable psychiatric claim, the petitioner must prove that the disability resulted materially from ‘objectively verified’ job-related stress.” This was not the case for Jeanne Knight, who worked her way up the ladder from bank teller to mortgage processor at Audubon Savings Bank in New Jersey.
Knight claimed that her occupational stress had been brought on by her immediate supervisor in the form of an overwhelming workload, negative reviews, and constant verbal mistreatment. These alleged factors led to Knight’s resignation in February of 2010 and a filing for worker’s compensation benefits shortly after. Upon leaving, she told her employer that she had to take care of her sick mother, but claimed to the courts that occupational stress in her work environment solidified her reason for resignation.
However, evidence proved the contrary when the bank turned over copies of performance reviews and witnesses testified that they knew Knight and her supervisor did not always see eye to eye, but there was no sufficient evidence to prove that these instances caused an unbearable amount of stress.
According to the article, “the petitioner’s physician had prescribed anti-anxiety medications for petitioner’s job-related anxiety in 2003 or 2004. Later, in 2010, a psychiatrist described the petitioner’s psychiatric disabilities as including adjustment disorder with mixed anxious and depressive features.” But the judge ultimately decided that there was no real medical evidence to prove that work was the cause of her diagnosis.